Archive for the ‘Postmodernism’ Category

4 days to go – the (welcome?) return of postmodernism

October 27, 2009

Only four days until I run the New York Marathon.

I’ll just leave you with that thought for a second or two.

And here is a link to a map of the course so you can see where I will be running on Sunday.

Last week I wrote a couple of blogs about blogging. Which was , as I am sure will bring a tear to many of my long suffering readers’ eyes, in a way a return to last year’s interminable RunAllanRun topic of postmodernism and its relation amongst other things, to my blogging and running. “Interestingly” this was the most successful day of blogging this year (ever in fact) on my blog with an unprecedented 53% rise in traffic to the blog over the previous “busiest day”.

But if last week’s posts were postmodernist blogs, ie, “blogs about blogging”, then what does that make this  one which is “a blog about blogs about blogging”. Post-postmodernism already exists I think. So it would have to be “metapostmodernism” or “superpostmodernism” or “intrapostmodernism”, perhaps. (Or “pointless waste of space”, I hear you cry.)

I would also like to point out that there has been a bit of a flurry of activity in the sponsorship area too. Some of this is down to it being pay day yesterday, I am sure. But I would like to say a big thank you to the small and very generous group of people who have sponsored me so far. If you would like to join this elite, happy and much loved gang, then just visit my just giving page here.

Running: well I did 35 miles in the last week – including home from work twice and a 15 mile run on Sunday. None of it what I could call “easy” but not hell either. So I am feeling quite perky about the marathon if a little terrified as well.

And there have been so many good wishes from people about the running which is great – thank you. 

It is interesting that the world is split into those who run and those who don’t. (There are also many sub groups within each and it is possible to switch between the two main groups as well.) So I have had people who have said, “How far is the New York Marathon?” with people from the “those who don’t” group. And very detailed conversations about training and mileage with people from the “those who do” group.  In fact I recently had a meeting with a potential client where I spent a very pleasant half hour over lunch talking about marathon training with the client (one of “those who do”) – who is also running their first marathon next year – while the rest of the people there (“those who don’t”) chatted amongst themsleves about ice cream or fishing or something.

But what has been wonderful is that everyone from both groups and whatever their running experience and achievements has been very supportive to what I am doing. Which is really helpful for me. So thank you all. 

And lucky me. I am going to run the flipping New York Marathon on Sunday!

So I am off to New York tomorrow. Yikes! I will keep blogging, if I can, so keep watching.

Today’s haiku:

Four days till the race
I am very nervous now
But also smiling.

Week ZERO – it starts all over again!

February 16, 2009

Firstly. Apologies for the last blog.  By way of explanation (not excuse), I had just had a flu jab – so was probably a bit feverish or something. But China Cat Collection indeed! What was I thinking of? or WTF (which my three teenage children (actually Mathilda is now 20 so not a teenager any more) reliably inform me is young person shorthand for “What the flip!”). OMG (Oh My Gosh!) Hilarious! or LOL (laugh out loud). Or were you perhaps LOLBACALI (Laughing Out Loud But Actually Crying A Little Inside).

But TBH (To Be Honest), the problem is that there was no focus!  What is a running blog with out running! Without a run to train for. A goal to aim for! (BTW (By The Way) that’s nearly a haiku(TNAH) .) (ITTEN – I Think That’s Enough Now!.)

So what to do?

Well as chance would have it I recently had an outpatient appointment at the hospital at which we discussed my condition and the continuing lack of an obvious cause of the problem. So the upshot is that the doctor and I discussed the possibility of me training to run another marathon while they monitor me a couple of times during the training to make sure nothing weird is happening.  I imagine this is partly because I may be something of an “interesting” case. But hey, if that means I am monitored and so feel a bit more secure about training then I am up for it!

So after these winter months of inactivity and near hibernation where I have put back all the weight and more that I shed last year I now have something to aim for. A  goal. A focus. A marathon. New York? I don’t know but a marathon in the autumn is what I am planning.

And with the days getting longer I am looking forward to getting back out there and learning to run again. The few weeedy runs I have done this winter have been absolutely rubbish. I am an embarassing, shambling, wounded water buffalo of runner at the moment. But that will change. And, you, if you want, can follow my progress all over again!!!

So, once again you can share in my rubbish runs, my “hilarious”  musings on postmodernist signage on the London Overground, my trashing of other more famous writers who write about running and of course the poor quality weekly haikus:

days are lengthening
running is back in my life
my blog’s back in yours!

Ah, it’s good to be back. Speak to you soon.

Week minus five or something – what next?

December 8, 2008

Sorry for the delay in writing this.

I have been struggling with what to write. I went to New York with Helen, my wife, anyway, even though the marathon was off the agenda. And I had a fantastic time. Saw Paula Radcliffe win the New York Marathon again. We were there for the election and it was great being there for what felt like a very historic moment. I met an old school friend, Nick, who I haven’t seen for 25 years or more (the wonders of facebook). And of course ate at Balthazar more than once. But as we all know from the infamous “mushroom” blog my enjoyable holidays tend to make for a dull post.

I could go into further detail about my medical situation, but I thought that might be too gruesome, as Daffy Duck would say.

And then I read an article about Slow Blogging . Which is a “movement” whereby a blogger only blogs when they have something interesting to say – which seemed to fit my blogosophy (yes, blogosophy). Or is that just an excuse for laziness?

I was finally spurred into action for this blog by the fact that someone left the RunAllanRun facebook group – presumably due to the lack of activity. And why does that matter?  Well many of you have been kind enough to say that you enjoy reading my blog, and well gosh darn it, I rather like that appreciation.  So as you can already see, of course the solution was obvious – a blog about the blog! That old post-modern standby that has served me so well!

So it struck me that I have lost the blogging spirit while I have not been able to run while recuperating from the surgery. However, I am now starting to run again. A little light jogging – but hoping to build up. I also weighed myself for the first time since the operation and was shocked at the amount I have put on in these two months of inactivity. And all of this has got me wanting to blog again. (That and the terrible vanishing facebook group.)

So it seems that blogging and running/training are now linked in my mind in some Pavlovian way. Which is quite interesting really because the blog was not really about the running as far as I was concerned.

One thing in particular about New York and being there on the day of the marathon this year that was “difficult” for me, was being on the Subway with lots and lots of people who had finished the marathon. They were wearing their medals and T-shirts and wrapped in tin foil blankets and I thought that it should have been me! And it made me think, “Well why not next year?”. And then I was able to reply, “Because of the artery thing, you idiot!” To which I could say, “But that’s better now. And anyway it will give me something to blog about for the next 12 months!” To which I was again able to reply, “Yes, but what about the whole artery/surgery/scary death thing?” To which I reply, “But I want to run the marathon…”

So there you go – a bit of internal conflict again. (Still under control, though, no “Kill. Kill. Kill ” voices, you’ll be glad to know.) Looks like I am getting the blogging mojo back!

The couple of runs I have done have been rubbish – like I am starting all over again. You may think the same about the blogging. I agree this is not the best blog posting I have ever done.  (I personally like the Green Eggs & Ham vs Mr Men one.) But like the running, it feels like I am starting again. So maybe next year, if I am still running and still blogging (and you are still reading) you will be able to see a different picture of me at the finish line of the New York Marathon than the one below. (I mean one which shows me having run the marathon, rather than just standing at the finish having taken the subway there.)

NY marathon finish line

NY marathon finish line

I want to write blogs
I want to run marathons
Let’s see what happens.

Week 15 – Conflict

September 4, 2008

This week:
Weight:still at about 76kg! (target: 73kg); Miles run in the last seven days: a hefty 37.23! (59.9159 km)
Total funds raised up a bit: £257.56 (including Gift Aid) Only £742.44 to go. Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 59 (oh lordy! Less than two months!).

Firstly, my apologies for the last blog which I think was a bit boring. The picture of the mushroom got the most positive feedback so I think that says it all. I think I was too happy and relaxed after my holiday trip to Cornwall (Kernow) to write the edgy, “out there” blog posts you are used to. Because, as we all know, there is no drama without conflict. Which is why Mr Men books are so dull. (Except Mr Nosey, who is taught the lesson of minding his own business by being smashed in the face with a hammer by his friends and neighbours while they stand around pointing and laughing at him(?)! This is how I think it happened:
Roger Hargreaves (Mr Men author) [talking into telephone]: Hello, this is Roger Hargreaves, author of the Mr Men Books. Is that Mr Puffin, my publisher? How are sales of my Mr Men books going?
Mr Puffin the Publisher [talking into his telephone]: Hello, Roger. Yes it’s Jim Puffin, publisher, here. To answer your question, sales of your Mr Men books are OK. But they’re not as good as Dr Seuss’s. Did you know his Green Eggs and Ham is the third biggest selling book in the English language ever? And it only uses 50 words! But what it has is conflict, Roger. Dramatic conflict. Sam-I-Am wants the other bloke to eat Green Eggs & Ham, and he doesn’t want to. Do you see? Conflict. And that’s got the reader hooked so that he (or she) wants to know if (and how) that conflict is resolved.  Does Sam-I-Am persuade the other bloke to eat the green eggs and ham? If so, how? Does he like it? Why are they green? Do you see, Roger, the conflict creates drama and interest. So, what we’re thinking here at the publishing house is that maybe Mr Messy getting his house cleaned by Mr Neat & Mr Tidy doesn’t quite have the same level of dramatic conflict that can hook the reader. And that perhaps, Roger, you could make the next one a bit more edgy. Throw in some conflict. What do you think, Roger?
Roger Hargreaves: Hmmm. Conflict, eh? Dr Seuss, eh? Think you know more about writing children’s books than I do, eh? Well why don’t you just mind your own business (publishing) and I’ll mind mine (writing children’s books)! You want conflict? I’ll give you conflict! [Slams down phone.]
And so, Mr Nosey was born!) (Or probably not.)
Anyway, I digress.

This week I have had some internal conflict because I am feeling quite unwell with headache, stomach cramps and, well lets just call it “bathroom unpleasantness”. So on my run this morning (5:49 am; 4.83 miles (7.77313 km); 50 minutes, 35.49 seconds, a disappointing 10.28 minute miles, and burned 595 calories – equivalent to approximately 1lb (453 g) of topically tasty Alaskan caribou meat) I was constantly in danger of puking or doing a “Paula in Athens 2004”. But the thought that I am behind on my training schedule kept me going. I had a terribly difficult “long” run on Sunday – running out of energy for the last four miles. And I am not doing the speedwork my schedule suggests I should. And I am back at work and the mornings are getting darker. And there is less than two months and I only have a quarter of the fundraising target and I have lost my blogging mojo and and and…. There goes that doubting voice in my head again… (Still not saying “Kill! Kill! Kill!”, you’ll be pleased to hear! but a clear example of some internal conflict none the less.)

So I have had a look back on some of the previous blogs (am I going all postmodern again?) and thought I would try to look at some of my achievements. And they are worth mentioning, I think (with thanks to all those who have supported and helped these achievements):

  • Weight is down 7kg in 14 weeks from 83kg to 76kg.
  • Weekly running mileage up almost 100% from 19 to 37.
  • Blog readership up nearly 900% from 3 to 26!
  • Funds raised up from £0.00 to £257.56.
  • The sport of Competitive Postmodernism™ invented
  • 8 haikus written
  • one picture of large mushroom uploaded.

Which makes me feel a bit better about it all again. And now *stop press* stop press* stop press* someone out there has created a link to my blog!!! It is from a New York blog called Brooklyn Running, which says:

“Here’s a blog entry from a guy in the UK (I think), who just spent some time in Cornwall, clocking down the time until New York (62 training days from today).
It features a photo of a mushroom (or is it a toadstool?) Nuf said.”

It then includes a quote from my Week 11 post about the wonder New York and of Balthazar restaurant. I feel so proud and excited – my reference and quote in another blog. Thank you, Brooklyn Runner. (And yes, I am in the UK.)

So all of this has made me feel a bit more positive about things again. Taking a pause and looking at what’s going well is a really useful thing to do. So my inner conflict, though not entirely resolved, is at least somewhat mitigated. And has hopefully made for a more interesting blog?

Thanks for reading. Please send a link to anyone you think might enjoy this and (really importantly) might sponsor me… This week’s haiku:

Drama needs conflict
Haikus need seventeen sounds
I need your money!

Weeks 12, 13 & 14 – Holiday

August 31, 2008

This week:
Weight:down 2kg at 76kg! (target: 73kg); Miles run since I last wrote: 101.41!
Total funds raised exactly the same: £217.82 (including Gift Aid) Only £782.18 to go.  Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 62 (frighteningly few!).

Apologies to my loyal readership (which if the facebook group is to be believed, numbers 24 people!) for the long delay since my last posting but I have been on holiday.  And I had a lovely time despite the weather, thank you for asking. I was in Cornwall (or Kernow, as  it is spelled in Cornish) and decided not to spend any time in the interweb cafe in Bude. I was too busy enjoying myself to write about enjoying myself (not very postmodern of me, I know!).

Anyway, three weeks is a long time. Importantly I have done a lot of running. As you can see above, in the three weeks I have done 101 miles (162.554km)! That is 33.803 miles (54.3958km) per week on average. Which is a lot more than I was doing.  The reason is I have been following “The Murakami Method” as I call it. Which is to run six days a week, with a longer and longer run once a week (up to 14 miles/22.503 km today). And while I was away I was running up some pretty steep Cornish (Kernowish?) hills!  I imagined that running up these hills would help me run faster and longer when I got back to the flatter running routes of north London. (But it seems not!)

And thanks to the fantastically seasonal rainfall, they were slippery hills too.  Here is me (left) on one of the slippery hills (walking rather than running that day)

Summer 2008 in Cornwall!

Summer 2008 in Cornwall!

Note wooly hat and rainwear!  So I think there are two questions for Kernow (Cornwall): why so hilly, Kernow? why so wet this year, Kernow?
Here is another picture of me with a giant mushroom. Or is it a toadstool?
Me with big mushroom

Me (left) with big mushroom

I will leave you to make up your own fun guy joke.
Anyway, this is all very interesting, I’m sure. But I have been away for three weeks and run and run and there has been absolutely no increase in funds raised which is pretty poor.  This is, I assume, because I have not been putting in the hours blogging, so readership loses interest, finds another blog about training for a marathon, gives money to different fundraiser! I think it goes back to the marketing thing again: I have to keep the blog posts flowing to keep people’s interest. No pressure then, given that I also have to run 26.2 miles (42km) in two months!
Oh, and by the way, I didn’t see a single minute of the Olympics.  But from what I heard and read there was plenty to fill a competitive postmodernism event (see earlier post). Russia & Georgia kept on meeting each other in competition while being simultaneously at war. Paula and Kelly both did me proud by losing splendidly and as one would have scripted it. But Team GB overall seemed to surprise everyone by being genuinely quite good without the need for any irony at all! So in honour of them an irony free haiku:
I had fun running
on holiday in Kernow
but did no blogging!
Back to work tomorrow, and more regular blogging.

Week 10 – Marketing

August 3, 2008

This week:

Weight: Still at 79kg (target: 73kg); Miles run so far this week: 17.78
Total funds raised now over £200 – hurrah and thanks: £212.82 (including Gift Aid) Only £787.18 to go.
Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 92

Regular readers will notice a change to the look of RunAllanRun since last week. This is because my wonderful colleagues in the NCT Marketing Department have been helping me to build interest and therefore raise more funds. So we have a hilarious banner for the blog. We have a facebook group (RunAllanRun) and we have a little paragraph on the NCT website.

And it is working. Sponsorship has gone up 100% in just one week, which is a very impressive uplift. So thanks for all the input NCT Marketing!

Marketing is mostly a very good thing and it works. My job at the NCT would not exist without the need for marketing. Commercial organisations wish to market and advertise their products and services to NCT members and supporters. I enable these organisations to do this while ensuring that NCT gets the benefit of valuable funds in return.

I myself am a sucker for most good marketing. I understand there may be mp3 players out there which are better value, or technically better than an iPod. But it is an iPod that I have. I think this may go back to my childhood (hello Mr Freud!). When my father bought me a toy car racing set, being an engineer, he went for the best one technically that he could afford, which was called “VIP Raceways“. Unfortunately, VIP Raceways went bust, probably because the much bigger and more popular (and better marketed) – but, according to my father, not as good – Scalextric put it out of business. As the two systems were not compatible, this meant that I could not get any new cars or extra track for my VIP set. Whereas, Michael, my next door neighbour could fill his living room with a massive labyrinthine Scalextric track that he just kept adding to and adding to, damn him.

So because of this – well, let’s just call it “painful” – early experience, then, I often give in to popular trends. We already know that I have the GPS thing because it looks really cool and the running magazines talk lovingly about it. The fact that I am running a marathon in the first place is probably down to all the marketing there has been about running marathons over the last few years. I recently bought the “I’m in” official ING NY Marathon T-shirt, which I have been wearing proudly since it arrived this week. It cost me £11 for the shirt and £16 for the postage, but there you go. The marketing worked.

Although as with most things, of course, I don’t need it.

And as this is for NCT, we know that the marketing of formula baby milk continues despite the World Health Organization Code. As Baby Milk Action points out: “The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child.”

So do some research before giving in to the marketing I suppose is my fatherly message today. Because it can be fun to give in to the marketing and indulge oneself. And this blog is a bit of self-indulgence for me, and I believe the marketing and imagine myself a great comic writer with literally seven or eight fans. Oh no! I’ve gone all postmodern again!

Marketing is good
Marketing is also bad
So do some research.

Right kids!

Week 9 – Competitive postmodernism

July 25, 2008

This week:

Weight: Finally broken the 80kg barrier (hurrah!) at 79kg (target: 73kg); Miles run so far this week: 19.23
Total funds raised now over £100 – hurrah and thanks: £128.21 (including Gift Aid) Only £871.79 to go.
Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 99

No, the title of this post is is not a new Olympic event. Although now i’ve written it down… I can see the possibilities.

Competitive Postmodernism could run parallel to the actual events and at the end of the Olympic Games medals would be given for the most postmodern, or meta narrative, performance. A clear favourite for the 2008 Gold is obviously Paula Radcliffe because she may not even start a running event at the 2008 games, let alone fail to finish or lose! Kelly Sotherton, British Heptathlon “medal hope” could give herself a better chance of a competitive postmodernism medal by pulling out of the heptathlon altogether and taking part in the javelin, historically her worst event. She could lose the javelin spectacularly, but give a knowing shrug to the cameras and storm the competitive postmodernism event. Or maybe a synchronised swimming team could do a routine which is about what it is like to be a synchronised swimmer in a team at the Olympics, somehow representing this through the medium of underwater dance/mime.

However, I digress as this is not what I originally meant by Competitive Postmodernism. It was meant to be a witty and clever (postmodern) synthesis of my last two posts. The reason being that my run yesterday (5.49 am; 5.02 miles; Time: 50:14.31; pace: 10.00/mile) was slower than my previous five mile run. And I thought, “Oh no, how disappointing that I will have to write in my blog that I have slowed down. How embarrassing to share this with my seven loyal readers”. Then I found out that last week’s posting had only five views, so my loyal readership has dropped as well!

So on this morning’s run (5.50 am; 4.90 miles; time: 47:28.56; pace 9.41/mile) I deliberately tried to go faster so that I could write something which looked better on the blog – and I did run faster! And maybe there will be more readers this week because… err …I ran faster.

However, I am in danger of disappearing up my own blog as it were, and making the blog more important than the running/marathon. This could then lead to some serious self analysis about why am I running this marathon? Am I running it to show off in my blog? Well, no. But maybe I should write more about running and the NCT, since that is sort of what this is about, rather than posting about posting. Hmm. I shall have to think about this.

As an additional postscript to the postmodernism thing. I was struck by the fact that all the platform signs on the London Overground (formerly Silverlink (formerly North London Line)) via which I travel to work, have got the words “temporary sign” written on them. (If you follow the link from “temporary sign” back there you will find a whole document of guidance for temporary signage on the overground from The Mayor of London but it doesn’t seem to explain why.) The signs look good to me. Pretty sturdy. I could imagine getting used to them. And I wouldn’t have thought about them being only temporary unless they pointed it out themselves.

This poses many interesting questions about the signs themselves and indeed the nature of signs. How temporary are they? Will the permanent signs indicate that they are “permanent signs”? Aren’t all signs temporary (in the long term) when it comes down to it? So is it pointless to call any sign anything other than temporary? Discuss.

Today’s haiku:

I can only write
a temporary haiku
this week. Like the signs…

Week 8 – Postmodernism

July 18, 2008

This week:

Weight: Up one kilo! (What?) at 81kg (target: 73kg); Miles run so far this week: 17.63
Total funds raised: £89.74 (including Gift Aid) Only £910.26 to go.
Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 106

One of the many strands of what I understand to be the theories/non-theories of postmodernism is that of the self-referential work or art. Art or literature which is essentially about itself as a work of art. Stories about authors struggling to write a story. TV shows about actors and writers working on TV shows with real actors playing “themselves”. So, probably not strictly speaking postmodern but interesting and linked, a neatly constructed pile of bricks becomes a work of art when an artist arranges the bricks and says they are art and the bricks are shown as art in an art gallery.

And this week my running blog is heavily influenced by this concept.

Last week my blog was very positive and upbeat about my running and prospects for a successful marathon in November. So while I was out doing my run on Sunday (8.15 am, 9.40 miles in 1 hour, 35 minutes and 42 seconds at 10.11 minutes per mile and an average heart rate of 148 bpm burning approximately 1060 calories – or a whopping 1091g of turtle meat! (look at that – a reference to those in the know to an earlier posting in this blog about the calorific values of various kinds of meat)) I found myself thinking about my positive blog last week and it helped me to run further than I have for some time. My blog inspired me. So this week my blog is about how great it is to be writing a blog which helps me to run which gives me material to write my blog.

And i have some very exciting statistics about my blog as well. For example:

Top Posts are:

  1. About Allan, 51 views
  2. Weeks 6 and 7 (already!) – competitiveness, 7 views
  3. Weeks 4 and 5 – pain, 5 views

so between weeks 4&5 and weeks 6&7 I had a 40% increase in readership (possibly). A readership uplift figure that The Guardian would kill for, I think you will agree.

And Monday 14 July, Bastille Day, was the busiest day on my blog so far with an amazing 47 views! I don’t think that the blog traffic and Bastille Day are related but I could be wrong.

So to sum up. My blog is helping me to be better at running which will I hope make the blog better and maintain your interest for 106 days more to see whether I run this marathon thing!

Todays poem will come as no surprise:

haikus are poems
of seventeen syllables
as is this haiku.

Thanks for reading.